Nzingha Byrd credits the initial COVID-relief bill signed into law last year for her small business, Sweet Sistah Splash in Cincinnati's Pendleton neighborhood, staying afloat in the early months of the pandemic.
"It's a huge deal. It just takes that burden off my shoulders," Byrd told WCPO last July.
The small business grant she received through Hamilton County meant she could continue to pay the bills for her business -- a performance and event space -- that was hit hard by early rounds of COVID restrictions.
That money was made available by the CARES Act, passed by Congress at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, now nearly a year ago.
When WCPO spoke this past January with Erica Thomas, of Beehive Learning Center in Colerain Township, she was holding her breath, waiting for the next round of assistance as the pandemic stretched toward the one-year mark.
"Knots began forming in our stomach," Thomas said. "We are really concerned, would we be able to sustain this?"
When President Joe Biden signed the upcoming COVID-19 relief package into law Thursday afternoon, he signed the tab on more than $1 billion in funds for local governments around the Tri-State to continue providing assistance to those hit hardest by the pandemic, like Thomas and Byrd.
"We're very grateful to the federal government for the partnership here because we're the ones on the ground kind of delivering the services," said Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus.
Hamilton County is slated to receive nearly $160 million in direct aid for what Driehaus said would likely be used for programs similar to what the county provided after the last round of direct aid to local governments: small business assistance, rent assistance and rehousing people experiencing homelessness, among other programs.
"What we know is, we're getting a large traunch of money, and it is to be used to help people that are still struggling because of COVID," she said. "My expectation is we're going to do similar kinds of things."
It remained unclear Thursday exactly how local governments can use the funds: While Driehaus said she is still "studying the language," she said she expects this round to be more flexible than previous bills.
Thomas said that without the previous assistance she'd received, she doesn't know where she'd be today.
"If it had not been for that, I truly would not know which way we would be going," she said.
The city of Cincinnati stands to receive more than $290 million in COVID relief from the massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill Congress sent to Biden's desk this week. Part of that bill includes $350 billion in funding for state, county and local governments.
Mayor John Cranley was not available for comment Thursday, but he said in a statement to the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, "Cincinnati will use these funds to restore what was lost and continue to grow."
The only city in Ohio to receive more funding from the relief bill was Cleveland.
Here's a breakdown of local counties and cities that will receive relief funding (dollar amounts current as of March 8, 2021):
- Cincinnati: $291.6 million
- Dayton: $147.1 million
- Hamilton: $36.3 million
- Middletown: $18.3 million
- Adams: $5.4 million
- Brown: $8.4 million
- Butler: $74.3 million
- Clermont: $40 million
- Clinton: $8.1 million
- Hamilton: $158.5 million
- Highland: $8.4 million
- Warren: $45.5 million
- Covington: $37.3 million
- Boone: $25.9 million
- Bracken: $1.6 million
- Campbell: $18.2 million
- Carroll: $2.1 million
- Gallatin: $1.7 million
- Grant: $4.9 million
- Kenton: $32.4 million
- Mason: $3.3 million
- Owen: $2.1 million
- Pendleton: $2.8 million
- Dearborn: $9.6 million
- Fayette: $4.5 million
- Franklin: $4.4 million
- Ohio: $1.1 million
- Ripley: $5.5 million
- Switzerland: $2.1 million
- Union: $1.4 million
Other smaller, non-county governments throughout the Tri-State could potentially receive some aid, as well. For the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee's full sheet of approximate funding estimates, click or tap here.